Ancient Egypt : Death Rituals
Ancient Egyptian civilization was based on religion. It is pretty noticeable the huge interest of Egyptians in the death process where they deeply believed in the principle of ‘the passage of the true eternal life’. Death was never feared by this people, instead it was considered as a transition into the Afterlife. The Egyptians believed that the body had to be intact in order for the next world to except it, this is a major reason that the Pharaohs contents of the tomb were of such importance. They emphasis on the importance of rituals, customs and beliefs as well as funerary architecture can be seen clearly in the discovery of the tomb of Kings and Pharaohs.
The planning that went into every Pharaohs tomb was extremely complex, as each tomb was significantly different in terms of the tombs layout and wall decorations. The tombs structure and layout had to somehow reflect the formation and projection of the solar star. Wall decorations in the tomb don’t represent the Pharaohs everyday life but that of their Afterlife and the challenges the Pharaoh has to undertake in order to reach the Kingdom of Osiris, land of the Afterlife. So these beliefs are reflected on the style of decorations featured in the tombs from imitations of papyrus to elaborate texts painted on the walls throughout the tomb. The tomb-owner would continue after death the occupations of this life and so everything required was packed in the tomb along with the body. Writing materials were often supplied along with clothing, wigs, and hairdressing supplies and assorted tools,depending on the occupation of the deceased.
Many tombs have been destroyed over the years, but historians have classified tombs into five types, such as the simple pit-graves, Mastaba tomb, Rock-cut chapels, Pyramid tombs and Mortuary chapel tombs. Pit graves were the simplest forms of burial and were more common in the poorer society in Egypt, and were still seen later on in the 20th Dynasty. It consisted of a hole in the ground that was a fraction longer than that of the deceased, and was covered with a number of bricks which were also used to line the walls of the pit.
Mortuary chapel tombs were grand and consisted of a number of rooms and courtyards, tomb walls. This type of tomb was built below the ground, as usually the chapel was built on the surface and the burial chambers below the ground. Rock cut chapels were more commonly used by Pharaohs and those of the richer society as the rocky regions of Egypt best suited the building of these tombs. The Nile area was rocky and featured many cliffs, so these were excellent locations for the cutting of the tombs directly in the hillside.
A royal tomb could be completed within a few months for a simple tomb or for a larger and complex tomb it varied from six to ten years. Decorations varied for each Pharaoh from elaborate paintings to imitations of papyrus. These magical and religious texts were drawn on the walls for the deceased to inform, and use as a valuable tool for them to make sure that they had enough knowledge of magical formulas for them to use during the Afterlife and they were also painted in sequence of events.
The New Kingdom royal tombs featured ceiling decorations, which included star maps, which represented the daily birth of the sun. Placing a burial underneath a symbolic symbol was considered of great importance for the resurrection of the body.
Before a body was buried the process of embalming took place for seventy days. Historian Herodotus tells of three grades of mummification that depended upon the amount of money the deceased had. The most expensive procedure was the embalming which resembled the god Osiris. The ritual took place usually within seventy days and a contract was drawn up between the embalmers and the deceased family, which specifies the amount of time the embalming procedure will take place. The body was then placed on a wooden table...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document